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VSP and Specsavers Now Providing Optical Services To ADF PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 14 August 2014

Defence HealthAs reported last month, Luxottica has lost its contract with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to provide optical benefits to its members. The contract, which is valued at AUD 33.5 million, is for optical services with the ADF as an exclusive subcontractor to prime contractor Medibank. Medibank Health Solutions (MHS), the medical and allied health provider to ADF personnel, advised Defence that Luxottica breached its contractual obligations by transferring optical claims information overseas for processing.

In order to continue providing optical services to its personnel Defence Health recently appointed new providers. It announced that it has joined forces with Specsavers and VSP Neighbourhood Eyecare to deliver better optical benefits for its members.

VSP Neighbourhood Eyecare is a group of more than 500 independent optometrists and optical dispensers. VSP providers are conveniently located close to where members live or work. Specsavers has more than 280 optical stores around Australia.

Save Sight Institute Launches National Keratoconus Registry PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 12 August 2014

KeratonocusSave Sight Institute, a research centre of The University of Sydney, is preparing to launch a National Keratoconus Registry to collect high quality data and outcomes from emerging therapies and surgical techniques relating to the management of keratoconus. It is anticipated that the Registry will be expanded internationally.

Led by Save Sight Institute's Clinical Professor Stephanie Watson, in collaboration with the Centre for Eye Research Australia in Melbourne, the project involves the development of a software platform to enable the mass collection of anonymous patient data in real-life clinical settings.

According to Prof Watson "Many therapies, devices and surgical procedures have been developed to treat keratoconus, but few have been evaluated using post-market surveillance, and there is no system in place to collect such data nationally. Keratoconus tends to affect young adults and has a significant public health impact".

The first treatment to be evaluated via the registry is cross-linking, a relatively new approach to halting keratoconus progression. Following evaluation of cross-linking treatment protocols, the registry will obtain long-term data on cross-linking, as well as emerging treatments such as the combination of cross-linking with laser and the use of rings. Once established, the registry will evaluate the clinical and patient-reported outcomes emerging therapies.

Keratoconus reduces vision by altering the biomechanical properties of the cornea. It affects 50-200 people per 100,000 of the general population. Severe visual deterioration affects 20 per cent of Keratoconics and usually occurs in the second and third decades of life due to astigmatism, corneal scarring or both. As it affects young adults, it has a significant public health impact. If vision loss from keratoconus cannot be corrected by spectacles or contact lenses, corneal grafting may be needed, which involves a life-long risk of graft rejection and weakening of the structural integrity of the eye.

The Australian Keratoconus Registry is based on the highly successful Fight Retinal Blindness (FRB) project, led by Professor Mark Gillies also from the Save Sight Institute. The FRB’s innovative free software platform—now in its sixth release—has expanded rapidly and collects real-world clinical data on macular degeneration patient outcomes from ophthalmologists throughout Australia, China, Europe and New Zealand.

According to Prof Gillies "There is no other system quite so easy to use. Collecting baseline data on a patient takes just 30 seconds to enter, with follow-up appointments involving just 15 seconds of data-entry."

Through the FRB system, the visual outcomes of 3,500 patients, 4,500 eyes, 65,000 visits and almost 80,000 treatments are currently being tracked in a completely anonymous way. This provides valuable insights regarding different treatment approaches and enables more clinicians to benchmark and continuously improve their own patient outcomes. Added to this, the program has real benefits for people living with macular degeneration. Says Prof Gillies "For patients, the simplified graphical outputs of their treatment journey helps them to understand the consequences of various treatment approaches, and is thought to be improving compliance". 

The FRB project is a joint initiative by the Save Sight Institute in Sydney, the Centre for Eye Research Australia in Melbourne and the Lions Eye Institute in Perth.

Specsavers Australia Wins Retail Awards PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 05 August 2014

ARA AwardsSpecsavers Australia has won two awards for excellence at the Australian Retail Association's annual Australian Retail Awards. Specsavers Australia picked up the coveted eBay inc Multichannel Retailer of the Year and Quest Payment Systems Australian Retail Innovator of the Year awards.

As Australia's only national retail award program, The Australian Retail Association's annual Retail Awards is the most prestigious competition of its kind and celebrates the country's most successful retail players. Specsavers General Manager Australasia and Global Retail Director, Derek Dyson was keynote speaker at the event and picked up the Australian Retail Innovator of the Year award on the team's behalf. Specsavers Commercial Director Asia Pac. Paul Bott picked up the Multichannel Retailer of the Year award.

Luxottica Retail Australia Loses ADF Optometry Service Contract PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 28 July 2014

Medibank Health Solutions (MHS), the medical and allied health provider to Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, announced last Friday that it had terminated its contract with its optometry service provider, Luxottica Retail Australia Ltd, effective immediately. MHS advised Defence that Luxottica breached its contractual obligations by transferring optical claims information overseas for processing. MHS has apologised to all ADF personnel for any concerns that this breach has caused. In July 2012, reported that Luxottica had secured the contract, valued at AUD 33.5 million, for optical services with the ADF as an exclusive subcontractor to prime contractor Medibank.

While the exact nature and amount of information transferred out of Australia is still being confirmed, it is assumed that all ADF personnel who received optical services through Luxottica since October 2012 are affected. Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral (VADM) Ray Griggs, has advised all ADF personnel of the issue and outlined interim arrangements for optical services.

"Both the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, and I are treating this issue very seriously," VADM Griggs said. "Our priority is to understand the extent of the data transferred overseas while ensuring ADF members can continue to access optical services."

VADM Griggs said Defence was working to fully assess the impact of Luxottica's actions for both individual ADF members and Defence. MHS has confirmed no other subcontractor providing services under the Defence contract is handling personal information off-shore.

Guide Dogs Voted Australia’s Most Trusted Charity PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Guide Dogs AustraliaFor the second year running, Guide Dogs has been voted Australia’s Most Trusted Charity in the annual Australian READER's DIGEST Most Trusted Brand poll. Based on a survey of 2,400 respondents nationally, Guide Dogs was recognised for its industry-leading services, including providing guide dogs to Australians who are blind or vision impaired for over 60 years. On behalf of Guide Dogs, Dr Graeme White, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, thanked the public for their ongoing support and trust.

"We're humbled by and grateful for this level of public recognition in our vital work, which enables Australians who are blind or vision impaired to be more independent," said Dr White. "Vision loss is a challenging disability but our services, including guide dogs and long canes, allow people to realise it doesn’t have to be limiting." Dr White added the award was a reflection of the support from the charity's donors and volunteers.

"We wouldn't be in a position to receive this award without the assistance and continued trust of our loyal supporters," said Dr White. "Over the next 10 years it's predicted that more than 2,000 guide dogs will need to be trained to keep up with growing demand from Australians who are blind or vision impaired, at a staggering cost of over $60 million - it's the public's generosity that will make this possible."

Dr White will accept the Most Trusted Charity award on behalf of Guide Dogs at a ceremony in Sydney this Thursday, 24 July.

AHPRA and National Boards Endorse Refreshed Regulatory Principles PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The National Boards and AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) have launched refreshed regulatory principles that will underpin the work of the Boards and AHPRA in regulating Australia’s health practitioners, in the public interest. The principles are endorsed by all National Boards and the AHPRA Agency Management Committee and will guide Boards and AHPRA when they are making decisions. The principles encourage a responsive, risk-based approach to regulation across all professions within the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme). The principles will further support decision making which is consistent and balanced. AHPRA and the National Boards will be seeking feedback on the principles in a formal consultation later in 2014 and will review them based on this feedback and 12 months experience.

AHPRA states: "The principles adopted by AHPRA and the National Boards are as follows.

  1. The Boards and AHPRA administer and comply with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory. The scope of our work is defined by the National Law.
  2. We protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered.
  3. While we balance all the objectives of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, our primary consideration is to protect the public.
  4. When we are considering an application for registration, or when we become aware of concerns about a health practitioner, we protect the public by taking timely and necessary action under the National Law.
  5. In all areas of our work we:
    - identify the risks that we are obliged to respond to
    - assess the likelihood and possible consequences of the risks and
    - respond in ways that are proportionate and manage risks so we can adequately protect the public.
    This does not only apply to the way in which we manage individual practitioners but in all of our regulatory decision-making, including in the development of standards, policies, codes and guidelines.
  6. When we take action about practitioners, we use the minimum regulatory force to manage the risk posed by their practice, to protect the public. Our actions are designed to protect the public and not to punish practitioners.
  7. While our actions are not intended to punish, we acknowledge that practitioners will sometimes feel that our actions are punitive.
  8. Community confidence in health practitioner regulation is important. Our response to risk considers the need to uphold professional standards and maintain public confidence in the regulated health professions.
  9. We work with our stakeholders, including the public and professional associations to achieve good and protective outcomes. We do not represent the health professions or health practitioners. However, we will work with practitioners and their representatives to achieve outcomes that protect the public. "
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